GrannyMoon’s Weekly Feast 11-18 Nov 2018


Blessed be my little witch. To those who came before and those who will come after, know that the Goddess is with you always. Thank you all my dear readers…be blessed.

The NEW MOON always rises at sunrise
And the FIRST QUARTER at noon.
The FULL MOON always rises at sunset
And the LAST QUARTER at midnight.
~The New Orleans Mistic


Light A Candle Today!
In many different traditions lighting a candle is a sacred action. It expresses more than words can express. It has to do with gratefulness. From time immemorial, people have lit candles in sacred places. You may want to begin or end your day by the sacred ritual of lighting a candle on this gratefulness. Or you may want to light a birthday candle for a friend. One single guideline is all you need: Slow down and do it with full attention.


Goddess Month of Cailleach/Samhain begins 10/31 – 11/27
Celtic Tree Calendar: Ngetal (Reed) October 28 to November 24


Current Moon Phase: Waxing Moon

Time: From New Moon To Full (Approx. 14 Days)

Goddess Aspect: Maiden

Associated Goddesses: Artemis, Branwen, Eriu, Nymph, Epona
Magickal Attributes: Invoking Beginnings, New Projects, Ideas, Inspiration, Energy, Vitality, Freedom.

Workings On This Day Are For “Constructive” Magick (Love, Wealth, Success, Courage, Friendship, Luck Or Health.)
Symbolic of growth, manifestation, attainment, gravidity (heavy with child – both philosophical and literal).

Waxing, First Quarter

Keywords for the First Quarter phase are: action, expression, growth, breaking away. It is the time in a cycle to take the initial action necessary to achieve your goal by expressing your needs and desires.
Feel & Move. Make phone calls. Write letters. Dance. Act now.

Honoring the Goddess Every Day at
So mote it be!!


Each And Every Day A Feast Day!
Embrace It!!!


The GoddessSchool
High Priestess Certification and Ancient Mystery Teachings
Now Taking Students!
High Priestess Mystery School Training
E-mail me ASAP for an application!


The Goddess School Grimoire
Hardcover: $39.45
Softback: $26.95
eBook (PDF): $6.25

The Goddess School Grimoire is a collection of recipes, artwork, poetry, prose, prayers, rituals, spells, and practical Goddess wisdom put together by the teachers, students, alumni, and friends of The Sisters of the Burning Branch Goddess School. The sisterhood is dedicated to restoring spiritual balance by returning the Divine Feminine to her rightful place and by assisting women in their personal and spiritual development. Since being founded by Head and High Mother Priestess Grandmother Moon in 2000, The Goddess School ( has grown into a large and beautiful global community of women


GrannyMoon is Founder and Mother High Priestess of GoddessSchool, Sisters of the Burning Branch, dedicated to the Feminine Divine. Living in the Washington, DC suburbs, she attended LDS Seminary, Former staff member and student of the Esoteric Theological Seminary, is an ordained Metaphysical Interfaith minister with doctoral degrees in Theology and Divinity, since 1999. She is a current board member of the Northern Virginia Pagan Pride Day, charter member and former counsel and board member of The Order of the White Moon. A scholar of ancient mysteries, Doula, Reiki Master, Herbalist and Lifetime Member of Herbal Healer Academy, Inc. and former VA State Representative A.R.E.N. Alternative Religions Educational Network. She has dedicated her life to the study and teaching of the Esoteric.

Join us! GrannyMoon occasionally teaches classes, and on the last Saturday of the month hosts the Most Excellent Order of the Black Hat – open to all – a group of solitaires who celebrate the wheel of the year. 7:15 – 9:00PM

Face to Face classes at Sticks and Stones – 11037 Lee Highway · Fairfax, VA

GrannyMoon’s Herbal Witches Cauldron – Every last Saturday of the month. Explore a new herb or two and work on a hands-on project with us. 4-6PM

November – Crystal Reiki III – Face to Face Classes 17 – 12-2 PM

December – Animal Reiki – Face to Face Classes Dec 1, 8, 15th – 12-2 PM

January – SpellCrafting – Face to Face Classes)0(

GrannyMoon Says Today Is: Moon Day Hail Luna! Hail Mani!

Energy: Female Ruler: The Moon Magicks involving the subconscious, healing, emotions, love, spirituality, healing wounds, children, small animals, women’s mysteries,mothers, sisters, female partners, wives, instincts
Today’s Magickal Influences: Agriculture, Domestic, Long Life, Medicine,
Travels, Visions, Theft
Today’s Goddesses: Luna, Selene, Diana, Re, Gaeleach, Ida, Artemis [Whom The
Greeks Associated With Bast], The Witches, Yemaya, Erzulie, Bast
Incense: Myrtle
Perfumes: White Poppy, White Rose, Wallflower
Monday – Wear pearl, moonstone, or crystal. Use an emerald for amulets.
Color of The Day: Silver, Grey, White
Colors for Tomorrow: Red
Candle: White
Cooking on Monday will improve magics for creativity, insight, maternal
nature, and Goddess-related efforts. ~Quote from Magickal Martha

Hail Tyr! GrannyMoon Says Today Is: Tyr’s or Tiu’s Day Day of Mars, Ares, Tiwaz, Tiw (from whom it is named), Tuisco,.

Magickal influences are: Passion, courage, aggression and protection, vitality, passion, ambition and raw, unabashed power. Mars energy makes the mind acute.It is lucky to meet a left-handed person on any day except Tuesday – then it’s an ill omen. A superstition from areas of England that were ruled by the Danelaw, because the day is named for Norse God Týr who sacrificed his right hand to bind the Fenris Wolf. #FolkloreThursday

Tuesday – Wear a ruby, star sapphire, or emerald. Use topaz for amulets.
Today’s Magickal Influences ~ Destination, War, Courage, Surgery, Physical Strength
Be cautious-especially while traveling.
Today’s Goddesses: Aset [Isis], Soorejnaree, Pingalla, Anna, Aine, Danu,
Yngona, Bellona, Aida Wedo, Sun Woman
Perfumes: Hellebore, Carnation, Patchouli
Incense: Lignum Aloes, Plantain
Color of The Day: Red
Colors for Tomorrow: Yellow
Lucky Sign: Tuesday Is The Lucky Day For Aries
Candle: Red
On Tuesday, cooking up a hearty meal featuring carrots, peppers, and garlic (all Mars foods and spices) to empower yourself for victory and success!
Hail Odin! GrannyMoon Says Today Is: Woden’s or Odin’s Day

Energy: Male Ruler: Mercury – Rules healings, the mind – Use for magick
involving mental issues, learning, higher education, addictions,
communications, travel, young people, messages, perception, self-expression,
artists, poets, and writers
Wednesday – Wear amethyst, star ruby, or lodestone. Use turquoise in amulets.
Today’s Magickal Influences: Conjurations, Predictions, Knowledge, Writing,Eloquence
Incense: Cinnamon, Cinquefoil
Perfumes: Sweetpea, Lavender, Mastic, Frankincense, Cloves
Color of The Day: Yellow, Grey
Colors for Tomorrow: Purple, Indigo, Blue
Candle: Yellow
Lucky Sign: Wednesday Is The Lucky Day For Gemini And Virgo
Today’s Goddesses: Aset [Isis], Demeter, Ceres, Spider Woman, Bona Dea, Oya,
Devi-Kali, Hella, Rhiannon, Coatlique, Maman Brigette, Sekhmet, Hathor

GrannyMoon Says Today Is: Thor’s Day Hail Thor!
Energy: Male
Ruler: Jupiter
attracting more of what you have.
Today’s Magickal Influences ~ Luck, Religion, Healing, Trade And Employment,Treasure, Honors, Riches, Legal Matters,
Use Growth, Expansion, Prosperity, Money, Business, Attracting More
Thors Day – Wear sapphire, cat’s eye, or carnelian. Use sapphire in rituals.
Today’s Goddesses: Juno, Hera, Kwan Yin, Mary, Cybele, Tara, Mawu, Mlaba
Mwana Waresa, Ishtar, Nuit
Perfumes: Stock, Lilac, Storax, Aloes
Incense: Nutmeg, Henbane
Color of The Day: Purple, Indigo, Blue
Colors for Tomorrow: Light Blue, Pale Green
Lucky Sign: Thursday Is The Lucky Day For Sagittarius And Pisces
Candle: Blue
Hail Freya! GrannyMoon Says Today Is: Freya’s Day

Energy: Female Ruler: Venus – Rules lovers and pleasure, affairs of the
heart – Use for magick involving love, peace, beauty, gentleness, women’s
problems, healing, protection, lovers, ease, pleasure, affairs. Resolve
quarrels today!
Friday – Cast love spells on Fridays. Wear blue robes and use turquoise, ruby, emerald or cat’s eye.
Today’s Magickal Influences: All Love Matters, Friendships, Affection,
Partnerships, Money, Sex
Today’s Goddesses: Astarte, Aphrodite, Erzulie, Aida Wedo, Eve, Venus,
Freya, Frigg, Diana, Aset [Isis], The Witch Of Gaeta, Chalchiuhtlique
Incense: Saffron, Verbena
Perfumes: Stephanotis, Apple Blossom, Musk, Ambergris
Color of The Day: Light Blue, Pale Green
Candle: Green
Colors for Tomorrow: Black
Lucky Sign: Friday Is The Lucky Day For Taurus And Libra
Saint Jegudiel represents Friday
Hail Loki! GrannyMoon Says Today Is: Saturn and Loki’s Day

Day of Seatere, Seater, and Saturn and of Loki, the Norse god of tricks and
revelry. Saturday is ruled by Saturn, whose Magickal influences are:
longevity, endings, and homes. Saturday comes under the influence of Saturn.
Saturn’s influence directs our attention toward routine chores, customs, and
conventional traditions. Saturday is a good day for furthering our ambitions
through perseverance, patience, responsible action, and a sense of purpose .
Saturday – Wear turquoise, labradorite, or diamond. Use amethyst.
Saturday is a good day of the week to perform spells and rituals involving
spirit communication, meditation, psychic self-defense, binding, and
locating lost things or missing persons.
Today’s Goddesses: Ops, Rhea, Tellus Mater, Gaia, Eartha, Ge, Tonantzin,
Asherah, Anath, The Shekinah, The Matronit, Mary, Gula, Herodias, Oddudua,
Today’s Magickal Influences: Duties, Responsibilities, Finding Families,
Works Of Magic, Buildings, Meditation, Life, Doctrines
Today’s Energies: Female – Rules obstacles, overcoming blockages – Use for
magick involving overcoming limitations, the elderly, endings, deaths,
blocks, constrictions, and those restricting you.
Incense: Pepperwort, Assodilious, Black Poppy Seeds, Henbane, Lodestone,
Perfumes: Hyacinth, Pansy
Color of The Day: Black
Colors for Tomorrow: Orange, Gold and Yellow
Lucky Sign: Saturday Is The Lucky Day For Capricorn And Aquarius
Candle: Black
Hail Sunna and Sol! GrannyMoon Says Today is: Sun Day

Energy: Male
Ruler: The Sun
Rule health, prosperity, leadership, joy, and protection – Use for magick involving happiness, prosperity, joy, healing, protection, power,
leadership, ego, authority figures, fathers, husbands
Today’s Goddesses: Sunne, Frau Sonne, Aditi, Igaehindvo, Amaterasu, Arinna,
Izanami, Ochumare
Sunday’s Magickal Influences: Health, Healing, Confidence And Hope, Prosperity
Incense: Mastic, Palaginia
Perfumes: Heliotrope, Orange Blossom, Cloves, Frankincense, Ambergris, Musk,Myrrh
Sunday – wear topaz, sunstone, or diamond. Use pearl in crafting talismans.
Color of The Day: Orange, Gold
Colors for Tomorrow: Silver, Gray, White
Lucky Sign: Sunday Is The Lucky Day For Leo
Candle: Yellow


Llewellyn’s Spell a Day
Success Prep
Spell Date: Friday, November 9, 2018

This spell is designed to help you achieve success in whatever it is you are working on. It can be success in a relationship, at school, at work, or even in a court case.

Take a piece of green paper and write down on it what you are working on that you want to be successful in. Be as specific as possible. Write down also what you are doing in the mundane world to help ensure this success. Roll the paper up into a scroll and bind it with black ribbon three times. As you bind it, say:

“I bind this scroll once, twice, thrice,
binding success to me in my endeavor.”

Bury the scroll either in your yard or at a crossroads. If you can’t access either of those, you can hide the scroll in the dirt of a potted plant.
This post was written by Kerri Connor on November 09, 2018
Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
Spell Date: Thursday, November 8, 2018

We’re a week past Samhain, the year’s final harvest. The nights are longer and bedtime is very attractive.

Speak this nighttime blessing tonight—and all through the winter. As you say it, think about the blessings of the Pagan religion and the Pagan lifestyle, with its regular rituals and interesting mythologies. We don’t pray to a god who will take our soul in the night. We pray to goddesses and gods (and possibly elementals and fairies and who knows who else—we’re an independent bunch) who touch our lives with caring and tenderness while they also sometimes hand us challenges. We are highly fortunate folks.

“Now I lay me down to sleep,
Blessed Goddess, in your keep,
Send sweet dreams the whole night through
And keep me faithful, good, and true.
And in the morn, when I awake,
Gentle Goddess, feed me cake!”
This post was written by Barbara Ardinger on November 08, 2018
Uncover Your Hidden Desires
Spell Date: Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Here is a fun variation on the old standby of setting an intention at the new moon. Ideally, do this after dark by a natural body of water. Otherwise, a fountain, a pond, or even a cauldron of water will do.

Hold a pyrite in your right hand and charge it with the intention to reach deep into your soul and reclaim some of its hidden depths. Then throw or place the stone in the water. Now fearlessly dive into your hidden desires. What do you really want: in your career, your finances, your relationships? Go beyond what you have assumed you wanted or what you used to want. Write down what you discover.

On a fresh page, phrase your newly uncovered desires in the present tense, as if they are already true. At the bottom of the page, write:

“Thank you, universe, for this
or something even better!”

Then sign and date.
This post was written by Tess Whitehurst on November 07, 2018
Uncover Your Hidden Desires
Spell Date: Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Here is a fun variation on the old standby of setting an intention at the new moon. Ideally, do this after dark by a natural body of water. Otherwise, a fountain, a pond, or even a cauldron of water will do.

Hold a pyrite in your right hand and charge it with the intention to reach deep into your soul and reclaim some of its hidden depths. Then throw or place the stone in the water. Now fearlessly dive into your hidden desires. What do you really want: in your career, your finances, your relationships? Go beyond what you have assumed you wanted or what you used to want. Write down what you discover.

On a fresh page, phrase your newly uncovered desires in the present tense, as if they are already true. At the bottom of the page, write:

“Thank you, universe, for this
or something even better!”

Then sign and date.
This post was written by Tess Whitehurst on November 07, 2018
Bonfire Night
Spell Date: Monday, November 5, 2018

On Guy Fawkes Day, people celebrate the famous English rebel who sought to overthrow a corrupt government, and recite this rhyme: “Remember, remember, the fifth of November!” The event is still commemorated every year with bonfires, which creates a dynamic social opportunity for people to gather outside in autumn.

You can create your own bonfire and use it to magically transform your intentions. Build a small fire outside in a fire pit or fire dish or inside in a flameproof cauldron. Participants should write down something they wish to transform in their lives, imbue it with their will and intention, then fold the paper and throw it into the flames.
This post was written by Peg Aloi on November 05, 2018
Reenergize Yourself
Spell Date: Sunday, November 4, 2018

When daylight saving time ends, we gain an extra hour. This is a great time to recharge yourself and regain energy during the dark part of the year.

If you are able to go outside, you may want to sit directly on the ground. However, if you cannot, you could bring some earth into your home in an altar bowl. Create sacred space around the area you are working in. Touch the earth and connect with the energies within it. Draw those energies into you as you take a deep breath. Continue until you feel fully energized, as doing so will help you through the rest of the year.
This post was written by Charlynn Walls on November 04, 2018

Random Acts of Magic
Spell Date: Saturday, November 10, 2018

You’ve heard of Random Acts of Kindness Day. Why not make today Random Acts of Magic Day? Use your imagination and dream up ways to perform small acts of magic for friends, family, and strangers. Radiate magic, and send your witchy vibes out to work their magic.

Find opportunities to conduct magic throughout the day by blessing strangers, granting wishes to your kids, creating a ritual with your family members, writing simple spells for friends, and leaving blessings for neighbors. Your magical acts can be obviously Pagan or covertly magical. Take cookies to your coworkers or invite a friend out for “cakes and ale.” Quietly bless and protect your office, or place a pentagram over the door.

Spread your magic around, touching people and transforming them in positive ways. These small acts of magic can consciously change your own and other people’s energy, and can create positive associations with Pagans and magic.
This post was written by Dallas Jennifer Cobb on November 10, 2018


Heartwings Love Notes 853 The Eyes of Perception

Heartwings says, “What we see is determined by what we think.”

Is my glass half full or half empty? Believe it or not, that depends on the nature of the thoughts I have concerning both the glass and what is in it. Am I looking with feelings or thoughts of fear or lack? Am I anticipating or being grateful for what is in the (metaphorical) glass? My days go better when I am aware of what is going on in my mind and heart.

Since nearly fifty years ago when I began practicing meditation, I have become able to be much more aware of my thoughts and feelings. It is a great help to my ability to remain calm and aware during difficult circumstances. I’m still working to remain conscious of my inner processes, and I expect to do so for the rest of my life. Working on the mind is like doing scales on the piano. A good musician must keep on practicing.

When I find myself dreading an activity or event, I can remind myself that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. My “glass of hope” will then appear to me to be half full rather than half empty. When I feel a sense of joy as well as of gratitude concerning whatever might be approaching, I will have a “glass half full” of optimistic feelings. This approach has the effect of helping me to get the best from whatever does happen, even if that differs from my expectations. The same is true concerning what someone might be saying to me: I can better monitor my responses and reactions.

When I am mindful-aware of what is going on in my mind and heart, I have more control over what I do or say next. If I am able to anticipate my words or my inner reactions to what is happening or to what someone is saying, I am better able to control them. Thus I can to avoid potential mistakes as well as difficulties. In addition, when I am able to take advantage of my perceptions, I may ward off the far larger problems that might otherwise evolve were I not able to see clearly or to be prepared with positive words or actions.

May you discover for yourself what works best for you.

Blessings and Best Regards, Tasha Halpert

PS Do you have stories to share about your life and experiences? I’d love to read them. Your letters are special to me and I cherish them and will respond.


Let’s Create Some Herbal Remedies – When Cold and Flu Season Arrives.
by Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

These two recipes are prepared as teas but are not taken in your tea cup – they help with the discomfort of flu season in other ways.

Winter Inhalation

This traditional herbal steam helps open your sinuses, discourages bacterial and viral growth, and reduces pain and inflammation. Remember to stay a comfortable distance from the steaming pot to avoid burning your face.

8 – 12 teaspoons fresh or 4 teaspoons dried eucalyptus leaf {Eucalyptus globulus}

2 – 3 tablespoons fresh or 1 tablespoon dried peppermint leaf

2 – 3 tablespoons fresh or 1 tablespoon dried thyme herb

3 cups purified water

Essential oils of the herbs above {optional}

Place the eucalyptus, peppermint, thyme, and water in a saucepan and stir to thoroughly combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and uncover. Drape a large towel over your head and the saucepan, forming a steam-filled tent, and inhale the medicated steam deeply for 5 minutes or so. Repeat several times daily as needed, warming the decoction each time just to the boiling point.

You can enhance the inhalation by adding 6 or 7 drops of essential oil to the brew after you remove it from the heat. Try oils of eucalyptus, peppermint, and thyme, and add one or more as desired. {Because essential oils can cause dizziness and light-headedness, do not use enhanced inhalations more than two or three times a day, and discontinue use if redness of the mucous membrane develops.}

A Soothing Throat Gargle

This decoction soothes throats that are sore from illness or hoarse from overuse; it’s ideal for public speakers or teachers even when it isn’t winter. You will notice that this recipe calls for simmering above-ground portions of the plant that are usually steeped; this is because you will be extracting deeper compounds that are only somewhat water-soluble.

5 -7 tablespoons fresh or 2 1/2 tablespoons dried echinacea leaf

4 – 6 tablespoons fresh or 2 tablespoons dried lemon balm herb

3 – 5 tablespoons fresh or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried sage leaf

3 – 5 tablespoons fresh or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried licorice root

2 tablespoons dried witch hazel bark {Hamamelis virginiana} or marshmallow root

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh or dried usnea lichen, if available {Usnea spp.}

5 cups purified water

Place the echinacea, lemon balm, sage, licorice, witch hazel or marshmallow, and optional usnea in a saucepan. Pour the water over the herbs and stir to thoroughly combine. Cover the pan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and steep for 10 minutes, covered. Strain and compost the herbs. You can make a larger batch and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Gargle with 1/4 cup of the warm or room-temperature tea four or five times a day; swallowing the liquid after gargling will provide extra benefits. For portability, put some in a little dropper bottle, and gargle with 3 or 4 droppersful for 30 seconds as a quick fix for an irritated throat.


Powerful Herbal Pain Relief
by Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

A few days ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the home of a gracious woman who deals in antiques. As I admired the many fine pieces displayed there, I came to realize that I, too, am something of a period piece a baby boomer who’s fundamentally sound but sporting the odd creaky hinge or two.
Fortunately, the herbal apothecary holds promise. Its medicines are good alternatives to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for chronic, mild to moderate aches and can reduce the need for prescription drugs.
More than 100 plants are known to have pain-relieving properties, but some are really outstanding. Reporting on herbal painkillers for arthritis, a review of clinical trials in the Clinical Journal of Pain says devil’s claw {Harpagophytum procumbens}, capsaicin from hot chiles {Capsicum spp.}, gamma-linolenic acid {GLA} from seed oils, and certain blended herbal extracts are especially good. Other studies indicate broader pain-relieving benefits from these as well as two traditional favorites, white willow {Salix spp.} and peppermint {Mentha x piperita}.
Herbal Rx: Devil’s Claw and Capsaicin.
Devil’s claw
Is a South African herb with medicinally active roots. This herb eases muscular tension or pain in the back, shoulders, and neck. A popular treatment for osteoarthritis pain, it may ease the rheumatoid arthritis pain as well. The herb’s active ingredients are harpagide and harpagoside, both iridoid glycosides with analgesic {pain-relieving} and anti-inflammatory actions. Devil’s claw extract has been shown to reduce osteoarthritic hip or knee pain by 25 percent and improve mobility within a few weeks. Rheumatoid arthritis pain may also be reduced and mobility enhanced within about two months. Devil’s claw extract is considered safe at the typical dosage of 750 mg {containing 3 percent iridoid glycosides} taken three times daily. It is also available as tincture {use 1 teaspoon up to three times daily} and tea. It should not be taken with blood-thinning medications and may not be safe during pregnancy or for young children, nursing mothers, and individuals with liver or kidney disease, or digestive system ulcers.
Puts the heat in hot peppers. It manipulates the body’s pain status by hindering pain perception, triggering the release of pain-relieving endorphins and providing analgesic action. Commercial capsaicin-containing creams such as Zostrix, Heat, and Capzasin-P are used topically for arthritis and nerve pain. Creams containing .025 percent capsaicin can significantly reduce osteoarthritic pain when applied to joints four times daily. A higher concentration of .075 percent works best for peripheral nerve pain such as that from diabetic nerve damage, HIV, and pain following cancer surgery. When using topical capsaicin products, be sure to avoid touching your eyes and other sensitive areas.
Capsaicin also can be taken internally to help with chronic digestive discomfort, or dyspepsia: A daily dose of 0.5 to 1 grams cayenne, divided and taken before meals, reduces pain, bloating and nausea over a few weeks. If you like to munch hot peppers, rest assured that they do not aggravate stomach ulcers as is commonly believed, and they actually might protect your stomach from prescription-drug damage.
Herbal Blends and Other Old Friends.
We’re also hearing more about commercial herbal mixtures for pain relief. Two apparently promising ones are avocado/soybean unsaponifiable and Phytodolor, both from Europe. Avocado/soybean unsaponifiable is a complex mix of sterols, pigments and other substances found in the oils, and initial trials suggest that a daily dose of 300 mg soothes hip and knee osteoarthritis pain by anti-inflammatory actions.
Phytodolor, with a 40-year history in Germany, is a liquid extract of European aspen {Populus tremula}, European ash {Fraxinus excelsior} and European goldenrod {Solidago virgaurea}. The extract helps muscle and joint conditions, including osteoarthritis; it contains salicin and other chemicals with anti-inflammatory and possibly antioxidant properties.
Don’t discount the psychological dimensions of pain in everyday aches. For instance, most headaches have psychogenic causes {such as anxiety, depression, and stress}, rather than vascular causes {dilated or distended blood vessels in the brain}. Psychogenic headaches tend to be diffuse, often feeling more like pressure than pain, and often are accompanied by muscular tension. Vascular headaches, including migraines, respond more readily to painkillers, whereas emotionally induced ones might benefit more from herbs with calming or sedative properties, such as lavender {Lavandula angustifolia}, chamomile {Matricaria recutita} or valerian {Valeriana officinalis}.
It shouldn’t be surprising that pain is multidimensional, and our tools for combating it need to be also. When you’re suffering from creakiness or another discomfort, consider the possible causes-disease, physical strain, nutrient deficiency, chemical sensitivities, allergies or emotional stress. Then you can access the herbal apothecary effectively and appropriately, to fully restore your well-being.
Aromatherapists use chamomile essential oil to promote relaxation and pain relief.
Herbs and Liver Damage.
Herb expert James Duke, PhD., points out that many more herbs protect the liver than harm it. In fact, one of America’s favorite over-the-counter drugs, acetaminophen {Tylenol and other brands}, is riskier than most herbs. Although safe within recommended dosages, acetaminophen overdoses {some of which occur among people simply trying to relieve their pain} are the main cause of acute liver failure, and contribute to 500 American deaths a year.
That said, the following herbs should be avoided, particularly in people with the known liver disease, heavy drinkers {or recreational drugs}, and those taking liver-taxing drugs, such as acetaminophen {Tylenol}, aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories {such as ibuprofen}, corticosteroids, statins, tetracyclines and others.
Herbs that contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids:
comfrey, coltsfoot, Senecio, borage leaf, and germander. Comfrey has gotten the most media attention for its connection to liver injury. In 2001, the Food and Drug Administration advised manufacturers to remove from the market comfrey products intended for internal use. Because this herb is a good wound healer, it’s often an ingredient in first-aid salves. Another PA-containing herb, butterbur, is available as a PA-free extract {Petadolex} for the prevention of migraine headaches and hay fever.
Kava {Piper methysticum}
For many years, people of the South Pacific have consumed kava beverages with the single side effect of a scaly, yellowish skin condition with excessive use. Research showing concentrated kava extracts reduced anxiety spurred its widespread popularity. Although human studies didn’t register liver toxicity, cases of liver injury {some severe} cropped up several years ago. Most involved ingestion of kava extracts made with acetone or alcohol, and often along with alcohol or drugs that can be hard on the liver.
Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of the American Botanical Council, says, “no convincing proof of an inherent toxicity of kava exists,” despite ongoing research. And, while he believes kava to be relatively safe, “the jury is still out as whether kava might cause liver injury, particularly in susceptible individuals.”
Steven Dentali, PhD., Chief Science Officer for the American Herbal Products Association, adds, “Considering the widespread consumption of kava beverages and the long history of apparent safe use, any toxic liver reactions are of course serious, but extremely rare.”
A general guideline:
Don’t take herbs that have even a suspicion of harming the liver if you already have liver disease or regularly drink alcohol or use recreational drugs. Also, avoid herbs if you take a medication that can be toxic to the liver.
Consult your health-care provider if you are unsure.
Compress For Bruising and Anti-Bruising Oil
A wet compress can relieve some of the pain of a bruise and help the healing process. This simple formula will have you feeling better in no time and for very little money.
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup witch hazel or cider vinegar
2 drops lavender essential oil
2 drops rosemary essential oil
2 drops peppermint or juniper essential oil
1. In a bowl, mix the water, witch hazel or vinegar, and the essential oils. Soak a flannel cloth in the liquid, wring it out until nearly dry, and then place over the injured area.
2. Cover with plastic wrap so the skin absorbs the essential oils and cover the whole thing with a towel. Apply the compress for 30 minutes up to three times daily.
Healing Ointment
You can have this ointment on hand to treat everyday cuts and scrapes as they arise, just as you would a tube of pricey commercial antiseptic.
1-1 1/2 ounces grated beeswax
1 cup olive oil or almond oil
2 capsules vitamin E, 400 IU
30 drops tea tree essential oil
20 drops spike lavender or French lavender essential oil
10 drops chamomile essential oil
10 drops fir essential oil
1. In the top of a double boiler over low heat, melt the beeswax. Stir in the olive or almond oil. Remove from the heat. Pierce each vitamin E capsule with a needle and squeeze the contents into the mixture. Then stir in the essential oils.
2. Pour into a small sterilized jar with a tight-fitting lid and store in a cool, dark place. Use as needed on wounds. Should last a year.
Cleansing Soap
Here is an antiseptic soap you can trust to clean out wounds properly and stave off infections. It smells good and costs very little.
Liquid castile soap
Lavender essential oil
Rosemary essential oil
Tea tree essential oil
1. To the castile soap, add lavender, rosemary, and tea tree essential oils {10 drops total per 2 ounces of soap}. Dilute with more soap if the skin is especially sensitive to any of the essential oils.
2. Use to clean off cuts and abrasions.
First-Aid Antiseptic
Here is an all-natural solution with germ-killing properties that will help soothe a minor cut or abrasion. Be sure to wash the affected area well before applying it.
2 ounces Calendula Ointment {recipe below}
40 drops lavender essential oil
20 drops tea tree essential oil
10 drops chamomile essential oil
10 drops lemon essential oil
1. In a small sterile jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the calendula ointment with the essential oils, mixing thoroughly.
2. Apply a small amount to the cleaned injury. Keep the remainder in a cool, dark place for up to two weeks.
Calendula-teaCalendula Ointment.
Use the old-fashioned calendula flower {Calendula officinalis} for this therapeutic salve that has many uses.
3 tablespoons fresh calendula petals
1/3 cup light olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped beeswax
1 capsule vitamin E, 400 IU
1. Put the calendula petals in a double boiler and crush slightly with the back of a spoon. Add the olive oil and simmer for two hours over low heat.
2. Strain the liquid into a bowl, pressing against the strainer with the back of a spoon to extract all the oils.
3. Return the liquid to the double boiler. Over medium heat, add the chopped beeswax and stir until it melts. Remove from the double boiler and beat the mixture until it cools and becomes creamy and thick. Pierce the vitamin E capsule with a needle, squeeze in the contents and mix.
4. Spoon into a sterilized 4 1/2-ounce jar with a tight top, seal, and keep in a cool, dark place for up to two weeks.
Gardener’s Hand Cream
This hand cream is especially beneficial for those hard-working hands. Because you are using unpreserved vegetable oils, if you don’t have a cool, dark place to store the hand cream or a friend to share with, consider making only half this recipe at a time. To make calendula tea, pour a cup of boiling water over half a teaspoon of dried calendula flower petals and let it steep until cool.
3 tablespoons beeswax, grated or shaved
1/2 cup sesame oil
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons calendula tea
3 drops lavender essential oil
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1. In a small microwave-safe bowl, mix all the ingredients. Set the microwave to a medium heat and cook 30 seconds or until beeswax is melted. Remove from the oven with hot pads and allow to cool.
2. Pour mixture into a wide mouth, sterilized jar with a tight top. Store in a cool, dark place until ready to use.
Calendula Ointment
Use the old-fashioned calendula flower {Calendula officinalis} for this therapeutic salve that has many uses.
3 tablespoons fresh calendula petals
1/3 cup light olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped beeswax
1 capsule vitamin E, 400 IU
1. Put the calendula petals in a double boiler and crush slightly with the back of a spoon. Add the olive oil and simmer for two hours over low heat.
2. Strain the liquid into a bowl, pressing against the strainer with the back of a spoon to extract all the oils.
3. Return the liquid to the double boiler. Over medium heat, add the chopped beeswax and stir until it melts. Remove from the double boiler and beat the mixture until it cools and becomes creamy and thick. Pierce the vitamin E capsule with a needle, squeeze in the contents and mix.
4. Spoon into a sterilized 4 1/2-ounce jar with a tight top, seal, and keep in a cool, dark place for up to two weeks.
Refreshing Mouthwash’s
For just a few cents you can cook up a potful of this rinse that tastes good and can be safely used as often as you like. Unlike more expensive commercial mouthwashes, it has no alcohol.
1 cup water
2 tablespoons angelica seeds
Dash of peppermint oil or lemon verbena
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the water to a boil. Remove from the heat. Stir in the angelica seeds and peppermint oil or lemon verbena. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes. Strain off and discard the solids.

2. Store the liquid in a clean, covered container in the refrigerator and use every day. It should keep indefinitely.
Spicy, Minty Mouthwash.
This simple recipe offers a kick that will make your mouth feel wonderful for hours. Use as often as you like it’s very inexpensive and doesn’t burn like commercial mouthwashes with alcohol in them.
1 cup water
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 teaspoons parsley
1. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil over medium heat. Remove the pan from the stove and stir in the cloves, cinnamon, peppermint extract, and parsley. Let mixture sit for 10 minutes. Strain off the solids.
2. Pour the liquid into a clean, tightly covered container and store in the refrigerator, where it will keep indefinitely. Use as a gargle and mouthwash.
Bacteria – Fighting Citrus Mouthwash.
Fight the damaging bacteria that dwell in your mouth with this lemon-tasting mouthwash with an alcohol base that acts as a disinfectant. It is as effective as any mouthwash you can buy and much less expensive.
Rinse and swish or gargle, but don’t swallow the liquid.
3/4 cup vodka
30 drops lemon essential oil
25 drops bergamot essential oil
1 1/4 cups distilled water
1. Place the vodka and the lemon and bergamot essential oils in a sterilized 16-ounce glass bottle with a tight-fitting lid. Shake the mixture vigorously to combine.
2. Add the distilled water and shake until well blended. Leave in the refrigerator for 1 week to mature, shaking from time to time.

3. To use, shake the bottle and mix 1 part of the mixture with 3 parts lukewarm distilled water in a small drinking glass. Rinse, but do not swallow the mouthwash.

Herbal First Aid Kit: What To Buy

Being prepared with my favorite remedies gives me peace of mind on the road or trail, and keeps me from having to search out herbal products in an unfamiliar town — or from having to resort to padding my heels with mullein leaves to ease the agony of a broken blister while on a backpacking trip.

I’ve had plenty of opportunities to put my first-aid kit to use, from treating blisters and bug bites to motion sickness and colds. I choose simple, multipurpose remedies and store them in a small padded nylon lunch box that’s always ready to toss into the car. For backpacking trips, I pare my kit down to arnica gel, echinacea, peppermint and chamomile tea bags, crystallized ginger, insect repellant, a tin of herbal salve, a tiny bottle of lavender essential oil, and an assortment of bandages and moleskin.

With the following herbs and essential oils, you should be able to treat just about any common condition you are likely to encounter in your travels.

The Herbal First Aid Kit: What to Buy

These are my favorite remedies — the ones I consider indispensable for a travel first-aid kit. All of the remedies are available at any well-stocked health-food store and by mail-order. Be sure to buy pure essential oils, not fragrance oils. To prevent breakage, wrap glass bottles in small pieces of thick flannel.

• Aloe vera gel: Cooling and healing, aloe vera (Aloe vera) soothe the inflammation of sunburn and common kitchen scalds and burns.

• Arnica gel or cream: Arnica (Arnica montana) flowers have anti-inflammatory and circulation-stimulating properties; the gel or cream is excellent for sore muscles, sprains, strains, and bruises. Do not apply arnica to broken skin.

• Calendula-comfrey salve: The bright yellow-orange blossoms of calendula (Calendula officinalis) have astringent, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties. Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) contains allantoin, a compound that stimulates the growth of new tissue and helps heal wounds.

• Chamomile tea bags: With its delicious distinctive flavor, chamomile (Matricaria recutita) makes a tasty tea. Gentle enough for children, chamomile has mild sedative, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It promotes relaxation, relieves indigestion and, when applied topically, soothes skin irritations.

• Citronella-based insect repellant: Most herbal repellants contain citronella, a pungent citrus-scented essential oil distilled from an aromatic grass that grows in southern Asia. Herbal insect repellants work well, as long as they’re applied liberally and frequently (as often as every two hours).

• Echinacea liquid extract: Rich in immune-stimulating chemicals, echinacea (Echinacea spp.) can be used for any type of infection. Liquid extracts are the most versatile because they can be used both internally and externally.

• Elderberry capsules or liquid extract: Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) is essential for stopping a cold or flu from ruining your vacation. The berries contain compounds that prevent cold and flu viruses from invading and infecting cells. If you’re flying or otherwise potentially exposed to viruses, taking elderberry is a good preventive. If you do come down with a cold or flu, taking elderberry can hasten your recovery time.

• Eleuthero standardized extract: An excellent adaptogen, eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) can help prevent jet lag; it was even used by Soviet cosmonauts to help them adjust to space travel. Standardized extracts guarantee that you’re getting sufficient amounts of eleuthero sides, which herbalists consider to be the herb’s active compounds.

• Eucalyptus essential oil: A potent antibiotic and antiviral, eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) are excellent for treating colds, flu, and sinus infections when used as a steam inhalation. Dilute with oil or witch hazel extract before applying to the skin, and do not take internally.

• Ginger capsules, tea bags, and crystallized ginger: The antispasmodic and gas-relieving properties of ginger (Zingiber officinale) soothe digestive upsets. Ginger also has been proven to relieve motion sickness better than Dramamine, the conventional drug treatment.

• Goldenseal capsules or powder: A powerful antimicrobial, goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis) is effective against a variety of microorganisms that cause traveler’s diarrhea. The powder has antiseptic properties and can be sprinkled onto cuts or wounds to stop bleeding. Do not take goldenseal internally during pregnancy.

• Grindelia poison oak/ivy tincture or spray: Grindelia (Grindelia camporum), also known as gumweed, contains resins and tannins that help to relieve the pain and itching of plant rashes. It’s available as a tincture and also as a spray specifically for treating poison oak/poison ivy rashes.

• Lavender essential oil: Virtually an all-purpose remedy, lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) has sedative, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. It’s helpful for anxiety, insomnia, headaches, wounds and burns. For most people, lavender essential oil can be applied directly to the skin. Do not take more than 1 to 2 drops internally.

• Laxative herbal tea bags: Travel constipation is a common complaint. Most herbal laxative teas rely on senna (Cassia senna), which contains compounds called anthraquinones that stimulate intestinal activity. Because senna has a bitter, unpleasant flavor, it’s often combined with tasty herbs such as cinnamon, fennel, licorice, and ginger.

• Peppermint essential oil and tea bags: With its high concentration of menthol, peppermint (Mentha xpiperita) soothes an upset stomach, clears sinuses and curbs itching from insect bites. If you have sensitive skin, dilute peppermint oil before applying. Taken internally, peppermint may aggravate heartburn.

• Valerian tincture: The sedative properties of valerian (Valeriana officinalis) make it useful for relieving anxiety, insomnia, and tension; it’s also a mild pain reliever.

• Witch hazel extract: Distilled witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) has mild astringent, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, making it useful for insect bites and skin irritations. It’s also an excellent base for diluting essential oils for a variety of simple, topical herbal first-aid remedies. Do not take it internally.
Additional First-Aid Essentials

• Adhesive bandage strips: Various sizes, including butterfly closure bandages.

• Alcohol: Small plastic bottle for removing poison oak/ivy oils from the skin.

• Bandage materials: Sterile gauze pads, a roll of gauze, adhesive bandage tape.

• Cosmetic clay: With drying and drawing properties, clay is useful for healing skin rashes and insect bites. Store in a small plastic container.

• Elastic bandage: For sprains or strains.

• Electrolyte replacement: Powdered drink packets such as Emergen-C.

• Moleskin: Blister treatment.

• Scissors: Small pair for cutting bandages, adhesive tape, moleskin.

• Thermometer: Instant-read type.

• Tweezers: For removing ticks and splinters.

• Waterless hand sanitizer: Travel-size bottle.
Quick Natural Remedies for Common Conditions

• Drink chamomile tea, 3 cups a day.
• Take valerian tincture, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon up to 3 times daily.
• Take a bath with 10 drops of lavender essential oil or place a drop of lavender oil on a tissue and inhale as desired.

• To dry a blister, soak a gauze pad in witch hazel, lay it over the blister and cover with an adhesive bandage. After blister has broken, wash with a mixture of echinacea extract diluted with an equal part of water. Finally, apply calendula-comfrey salve and cover with an adhesive bandage.

• Immediately apply ice to relieve pain and swelling.
• Apply arnica cream or gel twice daily.

• Immediately immerse the affected area in cold water until the burning sensation subsides. Then apply aloe vera gel mixed with lavender essential oil (5 drops of lavender oil mixed with 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel).
• For sunburn, soak in a cool bath with 10 drops of lavender essential oil.

Colds and Flu:
• Take 1 dropper full of echinacea extract four times a day until symptoms subside.
• Take 1 dropper full of elderberry extract four times a day until symptoms subside.
• To relieve congestion and soothe a sore throat, drink hot ginger tea with honey.
• To ease congestion, add 2 drops each of eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils to hot water; inhale the steam vapors.
• Add 1 dropper full of echinacea extract to 1/2 cup of water as an antiseptic wash.
• To stop bleeding, sprinkle goldenseal powder directly into the wound and apply pressure with a clean cloth.
• Apply a salve made from calendula-comfrey — only after a scab has formed, to prevent trapping bacteria.

• Replenish lost fluids and soothe the digestive tract with chamomile or ginger tea.
• For diarrhea caused by infectious microorganisms, take 1 capsule of goldenseal three times daily for up to two weeks.
• To boost immunity and fight infection, take 1 dropper full of echinacea four times daily.

• Drink chamomile tea as often as desired.
• For more severe headaches, take 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of valerian root extract; repeat every two hours until pain abates.
• Take a warm bath with 10 drops of lavender essential oil.
• Massage 2 drops of diluted peppermint essential oil onto temples, forehead, and neck. Keep away from eyes.

• Sip warm chamomile, peppermint or ginger tea.
• Chew on a piece of crystallized (candied) ginger.

Insect bites and stings:
• Cleanse the bite with echinacea extract.
• Apply a drop of undiluted peppermint or lavender oil to relieve itching and as an antiseptic.
• Mix clay with enough water to make a paste, and apply to the bites to relieve itching and draw out toxins.

• Drink a cup of warm chamomile tea.
• For stronger sedative action, take up to 1 teaspoon of valerian tincture before bed.
• Take a warm bath with 10 drops of lavender essential oil.

Jet lag:
• Take eleuthero (100 mg of standardized extract) three times daily for one week or more before traveling and for one week or longer following the flight.

• Take 1 to 2 capsules of dried ginger every 15 minutes until symptoms abate.
• To prevent motion sickness, take 6 to 8 capsules of powdered ginger about 45 minutes before departing.
• To calm a queasy stomach, chew on a piece of crystallized ginger.

Poison oak/ivy:
• Immediately wash the affected area thoroughly with soap and cool water, or sponge with alcohol to remove the oily resin.
• If a rash occurs, spray with grindelia extract several times a day.

Strains and sprains:
• Immediately elevate and apply an ice pack to the affected area to reduce swelling and inflammation. After 24 hours, apply hot compresses to increase circulation and speed healing.
• Soak in a hot bath with 5 drops of eucalyptus essential oil.
• Apply arnica cream or gel to the affected area three times daily.


Spell/Meditation for Easing Writer’s Block
by thecauldron born

Anyone who wants to be a writer, or indeed an artist of any sort, knows the feeling. Those pesky days when no matter how hard you try the inspiration and ideas just don’t seem to flow. Of course there are many ways to deal with the dreaded writer’s block. Going for a walk in nature, taking a long bath and playing some inspiring music are just a few of mine but here’s a method I developed using a little witchcraft to help my cause.

Since I’m a very visual person I always find decorating my altar/work space with items related to the specific spell/meditation/ritual that I’m doing helps me to focus my mind and set my intention. One of my favourite things to use is Tarot cards as they are such powerful visual representations and you can always find one (or a few!) to suit your particular need. For this particular spell I find the Empress card is perfect as to me she represents a woman overflowing with creativity with the confidence and power to manifest her creations. Alternatively, the Ace or Nine of Cups are both perfect. It’s entirely down to personal preference really and, of course, a card that has a particular meaning for you may be interpreted entirely differently by someone else. As with all magic, it’s the intention that really matters.

As well as having visual representations whenever I’m about to do a spell I find it helps to set the tone with music and incense/oils. My favourite scents for this particularly spell would be either sandalwood or cinnamon. Sandalwood has great writer’s block busting properties and helps to ease self doubt and cinnamon is great for raising focus and motivation.

So, now that you have your work space prepared and have set the mood for making magic you will need a few more items/ingredients:

Pen and paper. These don’t have to be anything fancy. Plain old biros and computer paper will work just fine. Even the trusty Ikea pencil if that’s what you have to hand. However, if you do have beautiful scented writing paper, tea stained sheets or even a fancy quill feel free to use these if they make you feel witchier!
Scented oil. As with the incense something that has properties related to your goal works best. I usually use cinnamon but, again, sandalwood is also perfect. You could also use clove, which has creativity boosting properties or eucalyptus for inspiration, mental clarity and understanding. It really is down to whatever works best for the individual.
Crystals. A plain clear quartz crystal to act as a blank focus point for your intention is fine here or, alternatively, see my post on Crystal Magic for Writers for inspiration.
A candle. Any colour/ type is fine here but personally I like to use a red candle as I associate red with creativity and passion which is what we’re trying to inspire here. Yellow would also be perfect as it is often associated with inspiration.

Now that you have everything you need you’re good to go. Take a minute to clear your mind and focus on what it is you want to achieve. Namely, creative inspiration and fresh ideas for your project. Once you have that intention clear in your mind draw something that represents your project on the paper. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece if drawing isn’t your forte, it’s simply an aid to help you focus your intention. For example, if it is a writing project you’re working on, try a pen, a computer, type writer or even a quill if you prefer. Or you could draw something representative of the content of your story / project. Personally, I often draw a book, a cauldron and a pen as they help represent what “The Cauldron Born” is to me. Whilst you are drawing, really think about your project, what you want to achieve with it and what it means to you. Next, anoint the corners of the paper with your chosen oil and fold it up so that the image is hidden. Place your crystal (or crystals) on top of the paper and visualize them amplifying your power and intention. Put your candle next or in front of the paper and crystals and, still retaining your focus and intention, light the candle.

Then, either out loud or in your head, begin to chant;

Open my mind, let inspiration come. My creativity flows, my hands create.

Or some variant of that. Whatever you find most representative of your intention. Repeat for as long as you feel like and then take a few minutes to meditate on you project. Hopefully by the time you are finished the ideas will have begun to flow and you should be all set to continue writing/drawing/painting/etc. If possible, keep the candle burning with the paper and crystals somewhere they will be in view whilst you are working. This should help to subconsciously reinforce the magic as you go. I also find this spell works best if it is repeated frequently before you sit down to work on your project. Rather than repeating the whole process every time I just keep my “creativity candle” set up on my desk and relight the candle/ repeat the meditation whenever I feel I need it. The regular reinforcement should help to train your brain to know when it’s “writing time” and help you to get into the right mindset more quickly.

Hope this spell helps and if you have any other suggestions for variations or ideas for busting writer’s block let me know in the comments!

Happy writing and blessed be! x


Stones of India
by Andrew Pacholyk MS L.Ac
(author of, Lead Us To A Place ~ your spiritual journey through life’s season)

In the southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, respectively, are the famous Karur-Kangayam and Hole-Narsipur belts, known throughout the subcontinent for their gemstones. This treasure trove of beauties includes aquamarine, garnet, iolite, marble, moonstone, ruby, sapphire, shiva lingham, and sunstone.
The star sapphire is the National Gemstone of this nation. The “Star of India”, is one of the largest such gems in the world. It is almost flawless and is unusual in that it has stars on both sides of the stone. This hazy blue gem was mined in Sri Lanka and is currently housed in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
India’s history has been influenced considerably by the development and use of stones. Carved and finished stones have left their mark on the architectural blueprint of this country. Temples, forts and palaces have all been created out of the love and artistry of stone.. Excavations of caves and sacred burial grounds have revealed exquisitely carved statuettes and carvings in stone. Ancient Buddhist monuments like the Sanchi Stupa and the great Taj Mahal have been carved out of stone.
Aquamarine: This stone has the calming, soothing energy of the sea. This is the stone of courage. Tranquilizing, uplifting, openness, innocence, lightheartedness, creativity, communication, self-awareness, confidence, purpose. Throat Chakra, Sacral Spleen Chakra, Heart Chakra. Used for protection on journeys, especially those who travel on water. Affects etheric and mental levels. Helps stabilize and harmonize unsettled surroundings. Helps reduce fears. Has an affinity with sensitive and mystical people. Increases creativity and sharpens intuition. Excellent stone for meditation.
Garnet: This is the most noted and popular garnets as it is a symbol of love and devotion. Garnet is a stone of commitment. Garnet is known in Indian mythology for persistence, stamina and energizing the Kundalini fire (our fire of eternal metamorphosis). It is given as a gift of love’s attraction, a gift of estranged love or a gift of a quick return. Red represents love and helps the aspirant to strive for improvement in moral conduct.
Iolite: This beautiful, Clear bluish to lavender cordierite mineral is often used by the healer to open a light pathway from the Throat Chakra up through to Crown Chakra. When we are blocking our ability to communicate with speech and absorb with our spirit, this gemstone opens this highway to better understand that what we say echoes how we process our spiritual nature. This gemstone shows us truth, simplicity, imagery, and peace by living at higher awareness level. Iolite is considered a very strong “Shaman” stone and can stimulate visions.
Marble: This mineral is used to provide both clarity and states of “suspension” in both meditation and tantric activities. Provides for the strength of self-control and mastery of thought. It enhances the powers of serenity. Marble can provide the “good common sense” in matters of the home, heart and one’s constitution. Allows for total recall of dreams as well as, provides protection, stability, and structure both in the physical and emotional mind. Marble may inspire your artistic endeavors, just as it inspired great sculptors to unlock this stone’s mystery.
Moonstone: Moonstone is most famous for balancing our emotional states. Emotional states are connected to the water element, which is connected to the cycles of the moon and tides and therefore, has a strong relationship to a woman’s menstrual cycle. Therefore, moonstone is one of the best stones for soothing emotional stress and anxiety. Moonstone helps cool, soothe and calm over-reactions to emotional and personal situations. It allows us greater flexibility and flows with life.
Ruby: Wealth, Joy, Love, Sexual Energy and Power. These are just some of the keywords associated with this warm, energizing stone. Ruby is known to strengthen physical and the emotional heart (or Heart Chakra), especially after mental exhaustion. Famous for enticing love, courage, and confidence, this vibrant stone offers vitality, stamina, strength, leadership, and success over challenges.
Sapphire: Sapphires are known as the stone of prophetic wisdom. They have a long-standing use in history. It is a stone of strength and gives great willpower. These stones lessen tension and align the mental, physical, and spiritual planes. They can be an important stone for people with spiritual confusion or depression, those involved in situations out of their control, and anyone with concentration problems. They are, therefore, used to help balance many aspects of the mind that feels overwhelmed, unfocused, or not grounded. Good for daydreamers who tend to waste time, feel scattered or cannot seem to find direction in life. The star sapphire is the National Gemstone of India.
Shiva Lingam: These stones are sacred to the Hindu tradition and are ceremoniously gathered once a year from the muddy banks of the Narmada River, one of the Seven Sacred places of pilgrimage in India. They are naturally composed of opaque cryptocrystalline quartz (making it similar to chalcedony, agates, and Jasper) combined with a variety of trace minerals such goethite with iron oxide deposits said to have been implanted in the stone by meteorites, millions of years ago. They embody the male and female form in duality and are honored as Sacred Sky stones.
Sunstone: This stone is a kiss of sunshine, crystallized. Honors the God, brings good luck and fortune. Energizes and empowers one’s self. Warms the heart and lifts/rejuvenates the spirit. Sunstone is used for protection, life force, and grounding. Sunstone is a great stone to use with “energy vampires”, or those who drain your energy from you. This includes parents, children, lovers, patients, bosses or anyone who is possessive, aggressive or overbearing. Sunstone breaks these bonds and allows light, separation, and clarity from these energies. This stone clears and brightens both the entire Chakra and unbound the Aura.


Listening to Our Bodies
By Madisyn Taylor

Your body has all the answers to restore itself to the best it can be.

When our body, mind, and spirit are in balance, we experience good health. But sometimes we get caught up in life’s parade of change and movement, and things get out of balance. Just as there are seasons in nature, our bodies go through times of cleansing and times of activity. Illness is one way our bodies restore the balance they seek, as it cleanses the buildup of unwanted manifestations of negative energy in our system. When we are not feeling our best, we can go beyond addressing the physical symptoms to listen to our bodies as they tell us the changes needed to restore balance.

Our bodies give us signals, but if we don’t listen when they tell us that they are tired or stressed, then the imbalance increases and a stronger message is required, one that is generally expressed by illness or dis-ease. The first step to regaining equilibrium involves slowing down, eating healthy food, getting more rest, and taking soothing remedies. Once we have nurtured ourselves with these things, we can begin to examine our illness for the message. A heavy head may be a sign that we have been thinking negatively, harboring anger, resentment, or guilt. A sore throat may be telling us that we have been speaking without integrity–gossip, insults, twisting the truth, or even speaking ill of ourselves–which can knock us off balance. A sore throat and swollen glands can also mean you are cleansing and processing some powerful emotions at present. Stomach problems could mean that we are having trouble accepting or “digesting” something. Only you have the knowledge of your thoughts and choices that will allow you to decipher the messages from your body. All it takes is time and attention.

When we take the time to listen to our bodies, we can learn how to restore our balance and improve our lives. By honoring the messages of our bodies, we can turn a time of illness into a constructive time of restoration, healing, and revitalization.


Drawing, Art Therapy, and Stress Relief
By Elizabeth Scott, MS | Reviewed by Steven Gans, MD

Art therapy has been widely practiced for many, many years, both formally in a therapeutic context, and informally among those who simply feel better when they draw. Decades ago, psychologist Carl Jung recommended coloring mandalas (circular designs that can contain intricate patterns or symbols) as a therapeutic intervention to promote psychological health, as he perceived that drawing mandalas had a calming effect on his patients while facilitating their processing of thoughts and emotions. Since then, art therapists have long recommended this practice and have reported positive results, though these results were not demonstrated by research until later. While there is still room for many more studies on mandalas and drawing, in general, several studies have already shown us some important information about the effectiveness of using art for stress relief. Here are some of the most telling findings.
Creating Art Can Minimize Anxiety and Lift Mood

One study from researchers Chloe Bell and Steven Robbins randomly assigned 50 adults ages 30 and under to either create artwork or sort a series of art prints. Before either group was asked to do anything related to art, they were asked to engage in the mild stressor of creating a 10-item to-do list of their “most pressing concerns and worries,” which was designed to create a mildly negative mood and mild anxiety that the activities could then potentially minimize. Then, they were given assessments of their moods and anxiety levels. Finally, they were given either paper, colored pencils, charcoal pencils, and oil pastels, as well as 20 minutes to either create art, or a stack of 60 art prints and the instructions to sort them “based on their pictorial content” for the next 20 minutes, depending on which group they were assigned to. Both of these activities would expose the subjects to art, but only the first group was involved in the creative expression.

After three measures of negative mood and anxiety were collected before and after each intervention, the results showed that the group who created artwork experienced significantly greater reductions in negative mood and anxiety compared with the art-sorting group, showing that the mere act of creating art can significantly minimize negative mood and anxiety, some of the negative effects of stress. (If you’re worried about the subjects being deliberately stressed by thinking about their most pressing concerns for the sake of the study, researchers asked them all to create a list of their 10 most positive or favorite memories before they left, which can be quite helpful in itself.)
Creating Mandalas Can Minimize Symptoms of Trauma

Another study by researchers Patti Henderson and David Rosen from Texas A&M University and Nathan Mascaro from Emory University School of Medicine was conducted with those suffering from PTSD divided 36 subjects into two groups: those who drew mandalas for 20 minutes at a time for three days in a row, and those who were instructed to draw an object for the same period of time.

Those who had drawn mandalas showed a decrease in symptoms of trauma at a one-month follow-up, whereas those who drew an object did not. (It should be noted that other potential differences in the groups were studied, but this was the only difference that was statistically significant; some of these expected changes, such as differences in anxiety levels among those who drew mandalas and those who did not, have been found in similar studies with less traumatized subjects, so it is possible that more mild states of stress can be more easily affected by drawing.)

It should be noted that, in this study, participants were asked to create their own mandalas using symbols that represented their feelings or emotions related to their trauma as part of the design rather than coloring in patterned mandalas that had been previously created. Because of this, there might be some added element of catharsis here. However, the act of coloring mandalas is similar in that the choice of colors and the calming act of coloring itself are the same.
Coloring Pictures Can Relieve Anxiety – No Drawing Skills Necessary

A final relevant study was conducted by researchers Renee van der Vennet and Susan Serice. In the study, they measured 50 subjects’ anxiety levels, induced anxiety in subjects by asking them to write about a past fearful incident for four minutes, assessed their anxiety levels again, and then divided them into three groups: one that colored mandalas, one that colored a plaid design, and one that drew freely on blank paper. Each group drew for 20 minutes using six colored pencils.

The researchers measured anxiety levels both before and after the drawing activities and found that those who engaged in mandala coloring experienced reduced anxiety levels to a significantly greater degree than did those who drew a plaid design or engaged in free drawing on blank paper. difference between coloring mandalas and drawing a predetermined (plaid) design may lie in the creative choices involved, the beauty of the end product, or something similar. The researchers observed that those in the free-drawing condition seemed to pause to think about what to draw, and some appeared to struggle with the open-endedness of the drawing assignment; perhaps there were too many choices with free drawing, where mandala drawing allowed for more concentration, focus, and present-mindedness. (And sometimes having too many choices can be stressful in itself, even if the choices are relatively insignificant.)

This study is particularly relevant for those who aren’t entirely comfortable with their artistic abilities, but enjoy doodling and coloring (which is a large group!), and lends support for the stress relief coloring books that have become increasingly popular among adults.

Final Thoughts

This is all great news for those wanting to relieve anxiety and stress and lift their mood. If you’ve ever wondered if taking a few minutes to draw a picture can actually help with stress, now you know that it can. (Perhaps that’s why many of us instinctively doodle on the sides of our to-do lists, or why teens often draw pictures in class.) If you’ve wondered if a stress relief coloring book is worth a try (as I had), it appears that they can indeed be helpful, as the mandalas used in the third study were very similar to those in mandala coloring books sold in popular bookstores. Simply creating something you find to be beautiful, or that expresses your emotions can be helpful, so let your inner child loose and get out those colored pencils! Try some art activities that can relieve stress.


Taking a Media Break
By Madisyn Taylor

Taking a break from media in all forms is like a cleanse for your soul.

In this modern age, we seldom question the pervasive presence of the media. Television, radio, newspapers, magazines, telephones, and Websites are part of most people’s everyday experiences. They enable us to stay informed while sometimes taking us on amazing journeys. But the content and experiences that these outlets offer also consume space in our minds and can have a profound effect on our emotional state. If you are someone who feels like your life is oversaturated with the “buzz” that comes from the media, you may want to consider taking a break. A media fast involves not watching television, reading any newspapers or magazines, checking or sending any emails, or even talking on the phone.

On the simplest level, undertaking this fast will free up thinking space. When you are constantly being bombarded with signals coming from outside sources, it can be hard to disassociate yourself, particularly if what you are hearing or reading is negative or stressful. Avoiding the media for a few weeks, or even just a few days, can help you center yourself. As you enjoy some quiet time and reconnect with other interests, the fast may even introduce you to creative aspects of yourself that you didn’t know existed. We may feel like something is lacking from our lives during the first few days of a fast. But it is this emptiness that opens up the space for a more expansive and clutter-free life.

Research has shown that both news and television programming can have an intense effect on mood, even causing sadness and anxiety. Without the “noise” of the media running through your head, you are freer to focus your attention inward. Ideas will present themselves to you more readily, and you will find yourself available to revel in the small joys of your own life. You also will be freer to live in the present moment, rather than focusing on what’s going on in the news or your favorite soap opera. A media break can also help you develop a more conscious relationship with news and fictional entertainment. When you aren’t continuously subjected to the media, you are able to look at what you are seeing or reading more objectively. Taking a break from the media may also give you a greater sense of calm, balance, well-being, and a new perspective on life.


American Scene
Stephen Halpert

Urban Rider Part 2

As he clung to the handlebars of his experimental vehicle, Howard felt dazed and nauseous. The Urban Rider motorcycle sped forward and the image of his parents’ home receded into a foggy background.
“Was that really them?” Part of him still couldn’t comprehend speaking aloud to a voice that seemed to know more of him than he knew of himself.
“Yes. Who else could they have been?” Her soft voice said. “The Urban Rider takes you wherever you want to go, whenever you direct. You had been thinking of your parents, remember?”
In his mind the image of their faces momentarily brightened then faded. Oddly, since he had begun on the Urban Rider he found his mind operating differently. Mentally, he scratched his head. How to explain this? He couldn’t.
Yet he tried. “Am I correct that somehow your technology can read my mind?”
“Aren’t you pleased that we have such a strong connection? I hope you’re comfortable with that. No other motorcycle can offer that, not to mention my other futuristic features.”
“Maybe I like things just the way they are. I’ve always worked hard. I’m happy.” Or was he? What was this seductive voice doing to him? “I don’t like being second guessed.”
“So you say,” she said softly, “Except perhaps for aspects of your fantasy world, your dark side, those feelings that leave you depressed.”
Howard’s face colored. “How do you know about that? It’s not as though I go about sharing my fantasies. I prefer to keep them to myself.”
The motorcycle slowed just a little. “Yes, but your mental self now includes me,” the voice whispered into his ear. “And oh, the fun we can have together.”
His eyes widened. “How can you know what I am thinking?”
At first she didn’t reply. Then she sighed. “The Urban Rider of which I am the guiding force enables whoever is on board to be and to do what he’s always wanted. It’s really that simple,” her voice soothed. “Yes, and now you can finally be happy.”
Her glib explanation left him feeling more confused than ever. He clutched the handlebars harder. His ego was in an upheaval. How did this machine know? He had to admit it to himself. He wasn’t happy. He hadn’t been for some time. Over the years with the exception of an occasional bit of foreplay, his physical feelings toward his wife had evaporated. She was more like a sister now. His stomach lurched. “What are you doing to me?”
“Taking you for your test drive,” her voice said sweetly.
“My first task is to help you integrate sufficient input that you may fully experience me. As you’ve just seen with your parents, I can slip you through the edges of time.”
“But my parents are dead! How could they seem so alive?”
“What you saw was that aspect of them that lives forever: their timelessness. The Rider is attuned to that aspect of immortality.”
She zoomed along the road and stopped outside an old brick building. His eyes widened. “This is my elementary school. But that’s ridiculous. It was torn down years ago to make way for a shopping plaza. OK now I get it,” he said. “This is just part of one big midlife crisis like Dr. C. said might happen. Isn’t it?”
She did not reply. Then he saw a small familiar looking boy in the school yard. He wasn’t playing with the other kids, just staring off into space.
“That’s me,” he said. “But how? I’m me here now. How can I be me there then at the same time?”
“All time is one,” she said gently. “This may be a new thought for you. What you perceive has been compartmentalized for compatibility and comprehension for you by your brain. The Urban Rider isn’t limited that way. I can move through all time as if it were now.”
He shook his head. “Mind sharing how that comes about?”
But instead of responding the Urban Rider sped forward crossing the city. It stopped outside a church just as a wedding was concluding. Howard saw himself and Ella about to climb into his old Ford, a hand lettered sign attached to the back window read, “just married.” Old shoes had been tied to the back fender.
He watched as Ella threw her bouquet. Suddenly he felt overwhelmed with fear that he would not be a good provider. Then the fear of insufficient funds for now overwhelmed him. “But that was forty two years ago. And I feel the same monetary fears as strongly as I did then!”
“Your Urban Rider provides you instant recollection of how you felt during every moment of your life, as well as the opportunity to heal what needs healing,” she said. A deep, soothing sound came through his helmet. It relaxed him, eliminating the experience of stress and worry he had maintained for so long.
He shook his head. “Who are you? You’re a lot more than just a set of instructions?”
“I’m the robotic persona that accompanies each Urban Rider Motorcycle.”
“And without you it’s just an ordinary motorcycle?”
“Nothing is ordinary.”
“But you can read my mind. Possibly even control it. I’m not sure I like that.”
“You mean you’re uncomfortable with our patented, noninvasive magnetic customer connection?” Her voice was soft and ever so gentle.
“I feel it’s very invasive. “Maybe if I were considerably younger I’d be more flexible.”
“Yes that is a unique feature. My programming guides me to serve you that your dreams may come true.”
“No doubt. I just don’t feel ready for this. I need my sense of personal space, at least for now.”
“Very well,” the voice replied. Was there a tinge of regret? Sadness? He looked up and saw that he was in his driveway.
Ella looked out the kitchen window. She saw Howard remove his helmet
and climb off the Urban Rider. Then right before her eyes the machine disappeared.
Howard smiled as he bounced into the kitchen. He kissed her differently than he had in years. His eyes looked youthful and sparkly.
“You seem happier,” she said. “You seem different. Younger, you’re more the old you and less what you’ve lately become.”
He grinned. “The Urban Rider does that. It has many odd features.” He hugged her. “Let’s go out to dinner.”
She frowned. “Won’t that put us over budget?”
Howard chuckled. “Who cares? I want us to go out for dinner and then to go dancing until we fall into each other’s arms.”
She hugged him. “If driving it has this effect on you maybe I should have a test drive as well.”
Howard smiled and handed her the business card for the Urban Rider salesroom. “I’ll leave that entirely up to you. Meanwhile let’s have some long overdue fun.”
(to be continued)



This Chai Eggnog recipe is lightened up a bit, quick and easy to prepare, and simmered with vanilla and chai tea bags for an extra delicious kick. Feel free to spike your eggnog with a pour of bourbon, rum or brandy if you’d like.


1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk
2 cups almond milk
5 egg yolks
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon McCormick ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 chai tea bags
1 teaspoon McCormick vanilla extract
(optional add-ins: bourbon, rum or brandy)

1. Combine coconut milk, almond milk, egg yolks, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt in a large saucepan. Whisk vigorously for 1 minute until completely combined and slightly frothy.
2. Heat over medium heat until the mixture just barely reaches a simmer (tiny bubbles popping up), stirring occasionally so that the eggs do not cook on the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the tea bags and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard the tea bags. Stir in the vanilla until combined. Taste, and add extra maple syrup to sweeten, if desired. And if you would like to spike your eggnog, I recommend adding 1.5 ounces of bourbon, rum, or brandy per cup of eggnog.


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